Parenting with Intent: a book review

What are your intentions as a parent?  Rearing up a child is not something that just happens.  It is hard work and without some thoughtfulness you will never take steps to raise your kids right. Counselors Sissy Goff, David Thomas and Melissa Trevathan have walked with a number of families through their ministry, Daystar Counseling in Nashville, Tennessee.  They know that good parents are mindful about what they want their children to become, but they also are attentive about being the sort of parents who can provide nurture and consistency, model spiritual health, and take responsibility for their family. In Intentional Parenting they offer their insights on how we can be better parents.

Intentional Parenting by Sissy Goff, LPC, David Thomas, LMSW, and Melissa Trevathan, MRE.

Goff, Thomas and Trevathan  take turns writing each of the twelve chapters of the book which are designed to encourage parents to attend to what parenting does. They challenge parents to be intentional, patient, grown-up, balanced, consistent, playful, connected, encouraging, spiritual, merciful, and hopeful. If this seems like hard work and pressure, the final chapter dispels the notion: “Being a Free Parent.” In that chapter, Trevathan avers that our experience of God’s grace is what sets us free to parent our children and trust God with the results.

Too many parenting books tell you how to get your kids to behave or succeed. That isn’t really the focus of this book, (though  they’re not urging us to turn out ill-behaving failures either). Instead their book focuses on what God does in and through us as parents.  In the opening chapter (“Being an Intentional Parent”), Thomas argues that parenting has more to do with our own growth than our ability to turn out good, productive children:

If we are willing to consider that God designed parenting more for our own sanctification and transformation than to shape our children’s lives, we open ourselves up to movement, growth, and maturity. If we consider that God designed parenting as a place where men and women could come to ask hard questions, engage deep heartache, and find renewed hope–a place where people can grow in the range and richness of new possibility in their lives–then there is much room for maturity of heart (p.10)

What follows in this book is an explication of this point. Each author, in turn, challenges us to be the parents we long to be.  If we are to parent well, we will need to grow in patience, because let’s face it, our kids are slow and the act of parenting does not feel very efficient.  Being a ‘grown-up’ parent means that to parent well, you will have to face your past and the things that shaped you as a child (and parent).  And yes balance and consistency will need to be cultivated to do it well.  But ultimately the glory of parenting is when you get to pass on  joy, hope and freedom to each child. If I have a well behaved child, but my parenting style impedes my kid understanding God’s grace, I failed as a parent (and a human being!).

This book is full of  challenging advice from some seasoned counselors. But it is not preachy. Goff, Thomas and Trevathan are excited about what parenting does in us as we seek to love and nurture our children.  Their excitement is infectious. I give this book 4 stars!

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this review through BookSneeze.


Jesus is WHAT?!?: a book review

Today after work I collected my things to leave and a co-worker spotted the book I’ve been reading.  Across the cover the words embossed are “Jesus Is _____.” My coworker pointed to my book and asked me how I would finish that sentence. I said, “Oh this is a book by this pastor in Seattle and each section finishes the sentence a different way.  He says ‘Jesus is your friend;’ ‘Jesus is Grace;’ Jesus is the point;’ Jesus is Happy–I haven’t read that section yet but I already hate it; ‘Jesus is here; and ‘Jesus is Alive.’

My coworker persisted, “Interesting, even knowing that context, how would you finish that sentence. If you had one word to say who Jesus is, what would it be.

I punted. “Well Jesus didn’t give one word, once he gave three: ‘I am the way the truth and the life. No one gets to the Father except through me.'” Other times he said he was the good shepherd, the gate, the vine the branches, the bread of life. It turns out Jesus is quite a lot of things. I didn’t answer her question directly because I believe that one of the biggest problems with our ‘one word answers’ is that we end up reducing who Jesus is.

Jesus is______.: Find A New Way to Be Human by Judah Smith

Thankfully Judah Smith does a good job at talking about who Jesus is and what makes him so special. This is an accessible and engaging look at what Jesus does for us.  Now this is not a book that delves particularly deeply into the gospel accounts. It does a little, but the focus of Smith’s chapters is what Jesus is for you and what life is like for those who follow after him. Jesus is.: Find A New Way to be Human is an examination of who Jesus is and what that means for us. Smith explores scriptures relevant to his theme but don’t expect heavy biblical engagement here.

What you get instead is a rather evocative look at who Jesus is:

  • Jesus is your friend— all of us our bad. We sin and fall short but the love of Jesus extends to each and every one of us.
  • Jesus is Grace– We don’t just keep on sinning because the Grace of God guarantees we’ll be forgiven in the end. Rather we see Grace relationally.  Grace isn’t just what God doesGrace is who He is. Jesus reveals to us the character, grace and goodness of God.
  • Jesus is the point–at the end of the day there is one answer to the meaning of life and its purpose, why we are here and how we understand God: Jesus.
  • Jesus is Happy–the promise of the gospel is that it is good news! Those who are in Christ will experience happiness, joy and peace. Jesus is the source of these things (BTW I didn’t really hate this section).
  • Jesus is Here–No matter how difficult your circumstances or what you are going through, you can be confident that Jesus is here and is close to you in your time of need.
  • Jesus is Alive–Jesus is alive and the life of the world. Those who follow him will discover a new way to be human. They will discover life itself.

Judah Smith wrote this book with the hope of drawing people more into the life of Jesus. I really appreciated Smith’s enthusiasm and message and think he is a great communicator. I think this book will be especially good for youth and young adults. However, in places I wish it were a little meatier. Smith does a good job of introducing people to Jesus, but more could be said about who Jesus was, what Jesus did, what Jesus does and what Jesus will do. I give this book ★★★☆☆.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me a copy of this book through their Booksneeze blog review program. I was asked for my honest review.